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How China sees North Korea's rapprochement with Russia

The rapprochement between North Korea and Russia, reinforced by the war in Ukraine, shows a greater opening of the market in the country commanded by Kim Jong-un to the allies. In this scenario, China, the North Koreans’ first trading partner, envisions a commercial and strategic resumption with the neighboring country, especially after the 20 th Communist Party Congress, which will take place in November.

The geopolitical context is seen by North Korea as an opportunity to strengthen military and nuclear development, in addition to promoting the economy.

The alignment between Russia, North Korea and China has stepped up since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, despite being low-key in the first few months. In May, China and Russia vetoed, at the UN Security Council, a resolution proposed by the United States to strengthen international sanctions against North Korea in response to missile tests. The text received the support of 13 and 15 members of the Security Council, but did not go ahead, as Moscow and Beijing have veto power and can block the measure. .

In 14 July, North Korea recognized the independence of pro-Russian territories in eastern Ukraine, being only the third country to do so, after Russia itself and Syria.

An affinity between the eastern forces has taken a clearer shape in recent weeks. While North Korea refused financial support from South Korea in exchange for curbing nuclear weapons, Russia offered help to reinforce Jong-un’s militarism.

On the day

in August, the North Korean dictator received a letter from Vladimir Putin. The Russian president said he wants to “contribute to the strengthening of security and stability in Korea.”

Kim responded to Putin about “strategic and tactical cooperation, with support and solidarity” between the countries. in the face of “threats and provocations by hostile forces”, referring to the United States.

In view of the current conflicts between China and the USA, especially in Taiwan, North Korea has taken the opportunity to make its military exercises, which puts South Korea on alert.

“Since the attack on Ukraine, North Korea can do whatever it wants, launches of intercontinental missiles or nuclear tests, because no resolution can be adopted by the Security Council because of the rivalry between the United States on the one hand, Russia and China on the other,” notes Cheong Seong Chang, from the South Korean Sejong Institute, to the newspaper Le Monde.

In July, the Russian ambassador to Pyongyang, Alexander Matsegora, in an interview with the Russian newspaper I zvestia, said that “Korean partners are very interested in spare parts and modernizing production sites,” referring to factories built in North Korea with used equipment from Soviet assistance. Matsegora also mentioned the interest in importing wheat from the Donbas region, disputed between Russia and Ukraine.

If before the war and the last conflicts in Taiwan, the rapprochement between North Koreans and Russians worried the China, as it would make North Korea less dependent on it, in the current context having an ally on the side is seen as a reinforcement of Eastern influence in this Cold War 2.0. Meanwhile, Russia takes advantage of the Korean opening to develop its long-awaited “Russian Far East”.

“It is natural that China approves that Russia is consolidating its rapprochement with North Korea. , despite China making it very clear that that region is theirs”, describes Marcelo Suano, political scientist and director of the Center for Strategy, Intelligence and International Relations (CEIRI). “A strategic triangle is being implemented”, he summarizes.

According to Suano, despite North Korea being a poor country, focused only on military development, it has a strategic position, bordering with South Korea and practically facing Japan, making Western interference in Southeast Asia difficult.

“Unbelievably, this makes the United States in a fragile situation. At the moment, due to this configuration, the Americans are not in a position to go into direct confrontation”, concludes Suano.

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